Former Illinois defensive end Dawuane Smoot was just drafted at No. 68 overall in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Smoot was drafted by an Illinois alum in Shahid Khan, who is currently the Jaguars team owner. Another former Illini-turned-Jaguar congratulated Smoot on Twitter following his selection:
The Jaguars feature several good defensive ends, including Dante Fowler Jr. and Malik Jackson, but Smoot should see some playing time this coming NFL season. Jacksonville GM David Caldwell had this to say on where Smoot will likely fit into their defensive scheme:
Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell says DE Dawuane Smoot will beef up to 270 and play behind Calais Campbell as a big end— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) April 29, 2017
Smoot makes the fourth Illini all-time drafted by the Jaguars, and the sixth orange and blue defensive lineman drafted since 2011.
Dawuane Smoot’s College Stats (2013-16)
Smoot has been a pass rushing machine since he set foot in Champaign-Urbana. Last season, he was credited with five sacks and 10 QB hurries. A lot of attention has been focused on his ability to get in the backfield by scouts, and NFL teams are always looking for a player that can explode off the line and disrupt offensive backfields. Smoot’s work in the gym has paid off, as his stamina gives him a constant edge throughout a game. As an edge rusher, Smoot does a great job bursting off the line of scrimmage and turning the corner past opposing linemen.
At nearly 270 pounds, Smoot can bring a physicality that many elite pass rushers lack. Whether he’s playing as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker, he’s already big enough to be competitive in run support, while still being quick enough to shoot gaps and be disruptive in the backfield.
Relying on speed has limited Smoot’s ability to counter a blocker at the line of scrimmage. If Smoot can beat his man at the point of attack, he’s successful. If he can’t get around the edge fast enough, he doesn’t exactly have a second move to close in on a quarterback.
Coaches always talk about having a “killer” move and a “counter” to keep offensive linemen off-balance Smoot needs work in both areas, but the foundation is already there for him to develop.